Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Devil In Disguise

In August of 1968 the Byrds released their sixth album, the seminal Sweetheart of the Rodeo. But this album went in a different direction from previous Byrds albums and was marked by a change in band membership. Singer/guitarist David Crosby and drummer Michael Clarke had departed after album #5, The Notorius Byrd Brothers, and had been replaced by drummer Kevin Kelley and multi-instrumentalist/singer Gram Parsons.
Parson's influence is all over this classic album, an album that took the Byrds in a whole different direction - alt-country (before there was a name for it!). There are conflicting stories on why Parson's vocals were stripped from several songs and replaced by Roger McGuinn's. Some say it's because he had contractual problems with his previous label. Others say McGuinn was unhappy with the degree of Parson's input. Nevertheless, the songs in question were only issued with Parsons vocals 22 years later on the Byrds Set in 1990.

Nevertheless, within a year Parsons and Chris Hillman had formed their own group, the iconic Flying Burrito Brothers with basssist Chris Etheridge, steel guitarist "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow and former Byrds drummer Michael Clarke.

The five released their own album, a natural follow-up to the countrified "Sweetheart", The Gilded Palace of Sin.

Not unlike "Sweetheart" the Burritos LP didn't sell well. Today, however, the 2 LPs are at the top of the alt-country heap and are responsible for influencing such acts as Wilco, Sun Volt, the Jayhawks, Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris who sang with Parsons in the 70s before he died.

Devil in Disguise, from Gilded Palace of Sin was originally called Christine's Tune but was changed because the woman it was written about didn't like her name being used.

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